What it’s like to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
It has been raining everyday for a few days now. It’s Sydney’s cheeky way to remind us that summer is over. And when we wake up this morning, it’s cloudy again. We usually don’t mind, but today, we are climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge; and it’s kind of a big deal. After 7 years living here, we discovered that Sydneysiders and tourists alike love the bridge as much as the Opera House and most people want to climb it as part of their bucket list.
As we start making our way to THE bridge, it starts raining. We reach the BridgeClimb office just in time to get shelter as the rain intensifies. The climbs are only cancelled in case of lightning.
We’re a bit early so we spend half an hour in the small adjacent museum. It showcases the history of the construction that took 8 years and cost $13.5 millions. It also tells the story of Vincent Kelly, one of the two lucky people to survive a fall from the bridge. It was already an impressive structure when it opened on the 19 March 1932 and still remains the widest steel arch bridge in the world today.
By the time we finish visiting the museum, Sydney shows us one of its favourite tricks. The weather changes in minutes and suddenly, all the clouds are gone. Blue skies! This is when Patrick opens the door and calls out our group. It’s time to get ready.
1. Getting ready for the climb
We walk in a circular room where we meet our 14-people group for the climb and sign the paperwork. Then we move to the next room where we receive our uniform for the climb. Everything runs like clockwork. We get dressed in the small cabins next door, put our stuff in lockers, and meet Bronte, our climb leader. She is very enthusiastic, and energetic. Straight away, we know we’ll have a good time.
Bronte leads us to a huge room where she gives us our gear. We put on our harness and proceed to the practice stairs. A few sets of stairs built to practice climbing the bridge.
We get our radios, line up, and wait (im)patiently to start the climb. In the queue, we meet Sue, 67 years old, who has a fear of heights. She’s very funny and endearing. We almost spent an hour getting prepped when it’s finally time to go.
2. Let’s climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
We exit the short tunnel, and walk on a see-through platform for about a hundred meters. For many, it is the most intimidating part. You are walking 50 meters above the ground. Under your feet, you can see the road, then the water. It’s a great feeling. We’re enjoying every bit of it… It’s not really the case yet for Sue, but she keeps on cracking jokes to make it easier 😛
After a few sets of stairs, it’s time to start climbing the actual bridge. It is surprisingly easy. To be honest, I was expecting a much harder climb. You basically climb a long set of stairs all the way to the top.
That way you can focus on the view while you’re climbing. The bay of Sydney is definitely one of the most beautiful ones in the world. We stop a couple of times on the way to admire the view and take a few pictures.
As you are not allowed to take your own equipment on the climb, Bronte acts as our personal photographer!
About 650 stairs later, we get to the top: 134 meters above the water. Bronte switches the radio off… The two gigantic Australian flags dance in the wind above our heads…
What. A. View! It almost feels like time stops for an instant.
We’ve been living in Sydney for several years and cross the bridge everyday to go to work. But today, it’s different. It’s like seeing it for the first time. You know, that feeling you get when looking at a familiar place from a new angle; We love it.
We walk over the traffic to go to the west side of the bridge.
No Opera House on this side, but interestingly, this is Karim’s favourite view of the harbour. We love the way the water travels between the land and the islands. And when the setting sun is reflected on the water, it becomes truly magical.
On our way down, Bronte tells us more about the history of the bridge and its inauguration. People came from all around Australia to be there on the opening day. And we get why. Today, the bridge competes with the city’s skyscrapers, but at the time, it was the highest structure around. Imagine how people felt when seeing it for the first time…
3. How much does it cost to climb the bridge?
There are many ways to explore the beautiful Sydney Harb